Property line disputes are one of the most common sources of neighborly conflict. These disagreements can turn into legal battles, and they’re often expensive to resolve. Luckily, there are steps you can take now to prevent property line disputes from happening in the first place.
What Are Property Line Disputes?
Property line disputes are when two parties disagree over the location of their property lines. If a property owner wants to park his or her car in the backyard and it is parked on the side of a neighbor’s yard, this could be considered an encroachment onto that neighbor’s land.
Property line disputes can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Faulty surveys and deeds
- The use of outdated maps to establish boundaries
- An error made by surveyors during original construction or remodeling
Property disputes are widespread, especially in regions where people’s houses are close to each other. According to a recent news article, around 6.6 million British landowners got into property line disputes in 2021.
Get a Survey
The first step to preventing property line disputes is to find out where your property ends. You can hire a surveyor to do this for you, or you can do it yourself with GPS or laser technology. The latter option is becoming more popular as technology advances and prices drop.
According to Forbes Advisor, the typical price range for a property line survey is $300 to $700. It’s best to keep in mind that some states may require a professional surveyor if there are any questions about ownership of the land.
Install Yard Signs
Communicating your intentions to neighbors can be difficult when natural boundaries exist between properties, such as trees or fences. The best way to deal with this is by installing yard signs in plain view of both property owners. Make sure the sign clearly states what you’re doing on your land and that it’s placed in an area where it can be seen from both sides of the driveway or other boundary lines.
You can easily find yard signs on the internet. However, you can look for blank yard signs. These blank yard signs can mark the boundaries of a property, indicating where one person’s land ends, and another’s begins. They can also indicate property ownership, such as by displaying the name of the owner.
Document agreements with neighbors. If you have a neighbor who is always forgetting to put their trash cans out on the curb, or if you tend to leave your garage door open and their dog wanders into your yard, make sure both of you have a written agreement that spells out the rules and consequences.
Document agreements with contractors. If a contractor is working on your property, make sure they’re aware of any restrictions that might apply. For example, one city in my state requires all fences built within five feet of property lines to have eight-foot high gates that open away from the house, and they’ll shut down construction until those gates are installed!
Document agreements with cities or counties. Your municipality may require certain permitting before building in certain areas. Make sure that these permits are obtained before starting work. Otherwise, it could delay everything indefinitely!
Fence Your Property
To prevent fence disputes, the best way is to build a fence. Fences let you know where your property line is and can also keep animals out of your yard or plants. If you’re worried about going overboard on the privacy factor, consider installing an electric fence with solar power instead.
If building a new fence isn’t possible for whatever reason, you could plant hedges around your property line as a visual guidepost for any neighbors who might be encroaching on it. The best hedge will grow quickly and provide more than just privacy. It’ll also indicate if something has been cut down or removed at some point in time.
While fences are excellent for marking boundaries, there can still be disputes on who owns what side of the land. While popular beliefs like the right-hand and left-hand side of the fence exist, experts say that you should not believe such things.
According to an article from the Express, experts say fences are usually built on the owner’s property. Additionally, they are usually built so that their edges mark the actual boundary. This means you should not focus on left-hand or right-hand, go for the edges.
Play Nice With Your Neighbors
The best way to avoid a property line dispute is to keep your neighbor happy. If you’re a person who plays nice with others, this shouldn’t be much of a problem for you. The more friendly and approachable you are, the more likely your neighbor will be willing to collaborate with you when an issue arises. It can also help if you’re willing to compromise.
If one of your neighbors has been looking forward to planting an apple tree in their yard for years, but that spot happens to be where your property line sits, consider giving them space for their apple tree in exchange for something else on your side of the fence. On top of being friendly and willing out-of-the-box thinking, it’s always helpful if everyone involved is empathetic toward what everyone else wants or needs out of the situation.
You must also keep your neighbors in the loop if you are about to construct or remodel something on your property that can impact them. For instance, if your walls are too close, you must inform them about your exterior repainting or reconstruction work.
According to The Guardian, the Party Wall Act of 1996 requires you to give notice at least two months before any such work begins on your property. Such kind of understanding and clear communication can help prevent any property disputes.
The bottom line is that property line disputes are devastating to families and communities. It is important to do whatever you can to avoid them. Good records, signs, and fences are just a few ways to keep your peace of mind intact. However, if nothing else works, you can take legal action against them.